Reviews by Layton
Battlefield meets Steel BattalionLayton | Oct. 3, 2012 | Review of ARMA II: Combined Operations
If you've ever played a "war sim" game, such as Operation Arrowhead or any previous ArmA games, you probably know what I mean when I compare it to Steel Battalion, the famed xbox game featuring a controller with 40 buttons. The game practically goes out of its way to have as cumbersome controls as possible, requiring several keybinds for crouching, standing, lying down, and other things where single keybinds would usually suffice. If you want to master the game, be prepared to use at least twice the amount of keys you would use for any normal game.
With that being said, once you get used to the control scheme, ArmA 2 is an excellent war game. It's probably the most realistic war FPS available so far, for better or worse depending on how you view hardcore realism. If you expect to run and gun, you will die extremely often; ArmA 2 is a rare type of FPS in which tactics are a necessity, rather than just a suggestion. If you have a PC that can handle them, the game's beautiful graphics also help to add to the sense of realism - despite the game being several years old now. If you're looking for a large-scale war FPS like Battlefield but don't want to have to deal with Battlefield 3, ArmA 2 will make a much better alternative if you give it the attention required to learn the game.
But who am I kidding? As I said before, this game is several years old. The reason it's suddenly the new top seller in town is because of Day Z, and that's probably why you're reading this page in the first place. If that's the case, you might as well go ahead and just stop reading and buy this. Day Z is basically a game where if you've read any sort of news story about it and still want to play it without being turned off by descriptions of its difficulty, you'll almost certainly love it.
Nothing like LA Noire, but don't let that stop youLayton | Sept. 27, 2012 | Review of The Testament of Sherlock Holmes
If your experience with this game was looking at the screenshots and nothing else, you might assume this to be another game like LA Noire or maybe even Heavy Rain. Sherlock Holmes differs from these mystery-solving games in that in The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, you solve mysteries. While the game features a hint system, it's up to you to find clues and determine what they mean, rather than just clicking on glowing clues and being told what happened.
If you've played any of the previous games in the series (such as The Awakened, SH vs. Jack the Ripper or Nemesis/Arsene Lupin, all three of which are worth playing) you generally know what to expect. There's no large open world, and the voice acting still isn't that great. The only real addition to the formula, aside from the hint system and updated graphics, is the ability to move around in a third person behind-the-character camera instead of just point-and-click and first person. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as the previous games were all fantastic adventure games that stand out greatly in the tidal waves of shoddy pixel hunts and obtuse square-peg-in-the-circle-hole solutions that other modern adventure games just can't seem to avoid. For once an adventure game has a hint system that doesn't actually need it, as the puzzles are actually solvable through logic.
However, as with any good adventure game, the story is equally important, if not more important than the gameplay. And for a while, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes features a brilliant storyline showing off the "dark side" of Holmes, in which he begins to be blamed for the very crimes he has solved. In the last hour or so, however, the game slips. It has a noticeable drop in quality in both the storyline to the voice acting, and it seems like they were going for a much better ending before they decided to change it at the last minute. Characters are brought in that really didn't have any place in this story, and then barely used, and seem to have practically been hired in the last week of development to rush through voice work. The game offers very little of an epilogue, and the conclusion is just anticlimactic enough for you to notice it. Considering how great the story before the last hour is, it's a shame to see that they picked what might be the least interesting or powerful ending out of all the ways the story up to that point could have ended.
With that being said, the game is still great fun, and if you're an adventure game fan then you'll most likely love it anyways, as I did. The ending isn't necessarily BAD, it's just not very good compared to the fantastic buildup. As long as you keep that in mind, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is well worth the relatively low cost.
Not perfect, but a step up from the originalLayton | Sept. 25, 2012 | Review of Borderlands 2 (NA) DNS
Borderlands 2 is a game that is very similar to Borderlands 1 in many ways. The gun variety is still not as impressive as it is advertised to be, the jump-in co-op is still full of flaws (like quests counting as being completed universally - if you join a friend's game and they finish a quest, you can't do that quest anymore in your own save file and you miss out on the rewards unless your friend is particularly generous), and leveling up still doesn't feel quite as exciting as it should, due to you having to buy 5 levels of perks in a single level of a single skill tree before you unlock the ability to buy (meaning you really only get a true perk every 5 levels). However, the parts where the game improves over its predecessor make up for all of these. The game is far more graphically impressive and colorful, and the graphics are much crisper and smoother - gone is the noticeable texture "pop-in" that plagued the first game at release. The story is considerably better, and features characters both old and new, with a new villain who can be absolutely hilarious at one moment and almost disturbing the next. The gameplay as well has received minor tweaks here and there, such as the ability to move slowly while in Fight For Your Life mode (in which you have to get a kill in order to revive yourself). Overall, Borderlands 2 is, for the most part, a hilarious and entertaining FPS-RPG.
Probably the best "GTA-style" game in yearsLayton | Sept. 25, 2012 | Review of Sleeping Dogs Digital Edition
Sleeping Dogs is a rare type of game that manages to combine a great story, fun gameplay, and awesome graphics all in one place. The game features an intuitive combat system based primarily around melee rather than guns, and there are lots of combos available for you to learn and use. Sleeping Dogs is probably the only game to use an XP system properly all year, letting you constantly feel like you're getting better instead of just making you feel like you're never going to reach the top. The game is also a graphical powerhouse, featuring DX11 graphics and an optional official HD texture pack to really make the game stand out. Overall, if you're a fan of open-world games and hong kong gangster tales you really can't go wrong with Sleeping Dogs.